Review by Christos T. Panagopoulos
In statements ahead of her three-day visit to Greece starting on Sunday, Russian Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko said that she intends her talks in Athens to cover a broad range of topics on the agenda in bilateral relations between Greece and Russia.
“They will include the prospects of activating inter-Parliamentary contacts, exploring and legal support of the legal-contractual basis of our bilateral relations. We also want to examine the possibility of developing inter-regional cooperation”, she said prior to her departure.
A former Russian ambassador in Greece and governor of St. Petersburg – and currently occupying the third-highest office in Russia – Matviyenko said her talks in Athens will also touch on bilateral trade and ensuring the flow of investments from Russian firms, several of which have shown interest in collaborating with Greece in the energy and transport sectors.
The talks are also expected to touch on international affairs, namely Syria and the situation in the Middle East, where Matviyenko noted that Greece and Russia often have very similar positions on fundamental issues on the international agenda. She referred to Greece’s upcoming EU presidency in the first half of 2014, which she said would allow discussion on issues concerning relations between Russia and the EU, such as the abolition of the visas for short visits on either side.
Matviyenko will be arriving in Athens at the head of a sizeable delegation from the Russian upper Parliament or Federation Council and will have meetings with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Greek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, as well as Greek government officials and business people.
During the visit she will address the 3rd Greek-Russian Forum marking the 185th anniversary since the establishment of Greek-Russian diplomatic ties and meet the head of the Greek representation at the Council of European Parliamentary Assembly Dora Bakoyanni.